Northeast Florida is getting international attention for its emphasis on operating with and producing liquefied natural gas (LNG). The recent American LNG Summit hosted in Jacksonville brought U.S. elected officials, international delegates and LNG and trade experts together to discuss potential for increased U.S. export of the clean-burning fuel in preparation for emission mandates to be set by the International Maritime Organization.
JAXPORT and its partners, Jacksonville-based shipping companies Crowley Maritime Corp. and TOTE Maritime have been early adopters in the innovation of converting their fleets to LNG-power. In fact, TOTE is launching North America’s first LNG bunker barge, Clean Jacksonville, which will be used for barge-to-ship LNG bunkering. The companies, partnering with Eagle LNG and JAX LNG, respectively, are already bunkering, fueling and exporting on a smaller scale to Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory has a goal of getting 60 percent of its energy from LNG in the next two years to cut costs and protect the environment.
While Jacksonville is leading the way in LNG exports, large-scale exports would require changes to the Jones Act, which require ships sailing between U.S. ports to be American owned, crewed and built, something that is difficult to achieve with sharp declines in the U.S. shipbuilding industry. In the meantime, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho introduced a small-scale LNG bill (H.R. 4370) that would amend current laws to expedite approval of exports of small volumes of natural gas benefitting Crowley and TOTE.